Why Men Commit Suicide: The Three Warning Signs Most People Miss

photo by jamesackerley

Jed Diamond, P.h.D, looks at suicide in men from both an individual and societal vantage point and gives ways to prevent it from happening. 

Recently I received a review copy of the book, Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Success by Thomas Joiner, Ph.D. I was happy to offer a review. Dr. Joiner is one of the world’s leading experts on suicide and has published two previous books, Myths about Suicide (Harvard University Press 2010) and Why People Die by Suicide (Harvard University Press 2005).

Dr. Joiner and I share a professional interest in suicide prevention. Suicide is a major world-wide epidemic taking the lives of over 1,000,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organization. Estimates suggest that 10 to 20 times more individuals attempt suicide.

Self-harm now takes more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.

Our personal lives have also been touched by suicide. My mid-life father tried to commit suicide when I was 5 years old. Although he lived, our lives were never the same.  I grew up wondering what happened to my father and was terrified that the same thing would happen to me. My life-long interest in men’s health grew from my desire to help men, and the women and children who love them, to understand what causes men to give up on life and what we can do to keep them engaged.

Dr. Joiner’s father, also named Thomas, killed himself when Dr. Joiner was in his third year of graduate school. Although the senior Thomas was depressed, he didn’t seem like a suicide risk. As reported by Tony Dokoupil in a recent article, The Suicide Epidemic, “the 56-year old Joiner was gregarious, the kind of guy who was forever talking and laughing and bending people his way. He wasn’t a brittle person with bad genes and big problems. Thomas Joiner Sr. was a successful businessman, a former Marine, tough even by Southern standards.” As it turned out, these “manly” traits may have contributed to his demise.

Joiner remembers the day his father disappeared. “Dad had left an unmade bed in a spare room, and an empty spot where his van usually went. By nightfall he hadn’t been heard from, and the following morning my mother called me at school. The police had found the van. It was parked in an office lot about a mile from the house, the engine cold. Inside, in the back, the police found my father dead, covered in blood. He had been stabbed through the heart.”

The investigators found slash marks on his father’s wrists and a note on a yellow sticky pad by the driver’s seat. “Is this the answer?” it read, in his father’s shaky scrawl. They ruled it a suicide, death by “puncture wound,” an impossibly grisly way to go, which made it all the more difficult for Joiner to understand.

Suicide is a Primarily Male Problem

In his latest book, Lonely at the Top, Joiner asks, “which cause of death stands out as affecting men far more than women?  Given their privileged financial and society status, perhaps it has something to do with the dark side of wealth and power such as the cardiac or stroke-related consequences of influential but stressful jobs, or a taste for expensive but unhealthy foods?”

“No,” he says, “It’s suicide.” Approximately 30,000 people commit suicide each year in the U.S. and 80% were men. Overall, males kill themselves at rates that are 4 times higher than females. But in certain age groups men are even more vulnerable. The suicide rate for those ages 20-24 is 5.4 times higher for males than for females of the same age.

In the older age groups suicide is even more a “male problem.” After retirement, the suicide rate skyrockets for men, but not for women. Between the ages of 65-74 the rate is 6.3 times higher for males. Between the ages of 75-84, the suicide rate is 7 times higher.  And for those over 85, it is nearly 18 times higher for men than it is for women.

A New Understanding of Why People Die by Suicide 

Joiner is 47 now, and a chaired professor at Florida State University, in Tallahassee. He’s made it his life’s work to understand why people kill themselves and what we can do to prevent them from taking their lives. He hopes to honor his father, by combating what killed him and by making his death a stepping stone to better treatment. “Because,” as he says, “no one should have to die alone in a mess in a hotel bathroom, in the back of a van, or on a park bench, thinking incorrectly that the world will be better off without them.”

Dr. Joiner has proposed a new theory of why people commit suicide which he believes is more accurate than previous formulations offered by writers like Edwin Schneidman, Ph.D. and Aaron Beck, MD. According to Schneidman’s model, the key motivator which drives people to suicide is psychological pain. In Beck’s understanding, the key motivator is the development of a pervasive sense of hopelessness. Dr. Joiner suggests that these are correct understandings but are also too vague to be useful for predictive purposes and not capable of offering a complete motivational picture.

Joiner proposes that there are three key motivational aspects which contribute to suicide. These are: 1) a sense of not belonging, of being alone, 2) a sense of not contributing, of being a burden 3) a capability for suicide, not being afraid to die. All three of these motivations or preconditions must be in place before someone will attempt suicide.

Although women, too, can take their own lives when they suffer at the intersection of  “feeling alone, feeling a burden, and not being afraid to die,” this is clearly a more male phenomenon.  Throughout our lives males take more risks and invite injury more often.  We are taught that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” and “no pain, no gain.”

We often invest so much of our lives in our work, when we lose our jobs or retire we feel worthless, unable to contribute.  It’s a short step to feeling we are a burden on those we love.  We also put less effort into developing and maintaining friendships so we can come to feel more and more alone.

Preventing Suicide In Men

I’ve found that Joiner’s model, what he calls the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, can be very helpful in understanding suicide risk in men. The three overlapping circles help alert us to the kinds of questions we might ask ourselves if we want to prevent suicide. Joiner and his colleagues have developed a questionnaire that addresses these issues. Here are a few of the items they assess:

Thwarted Belonginess:

These days, I feel disconnected from other people.

These days, I rarely interact with people who care about me.

These days, I don’t feel I belong.

These days, I often feel like an outsider in social gatherings.

 

Perceived Burdensomeness: 

These days the people in my life would be better off if I were gone.

These days the people in my life would be happier without me.

These days I think I have failed the people in my life.

These days I feel like a burden on the people in my life.

 

Capacity for Suicide:

Things that scare most people do not scare me.

The sight of my own blood does not bother me.

I can tolerate a lot more pain than most people.

I am not at all afraid to die.

 ♦◊♦

Like most people, I’ve had thoughts of suicide at numerous times in my life, but the one time I felt at high risk of actually killing myself was when all three sectors overlapped. I was lucky that my wife was smart enough to remove the guy from the house until I saw a therapist and got into treatment for my depression and my suicide risk subsided.

Some people believe that if a person is going to kill themselves, there’s nothing one can do. If you try to stop them, they’ll just bide their time and do it later. However, we now know that suicidal intention is transient. If we can get support to get through those times when we feel disconnected, a burden to others, and having the means and mind-set to actually kill ourselves, we can begin to develop the social supports to turn things around.

I suspect the difference between James Joiner’s dad and my dad wasn’t their level of  “thwarted belongingness” or “perceived burdensomeness” but my father’s lower capacity for suicide. Disrupt one of the risk circles and we buy ourselves more time to heal.  Making a connection can be as simple as a smile. I read the report of a man who left a note as he walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. It said, “If one person smiles at me, I won’t kill myself.”  The note was found after he had plunged to his death. We can all reach out, in our own way, and touch someone who may feel disconnected, disrespected, and useless.

We can also let in the love when we are feeling down. I remind myself, and my clients, to take heed of the lines from the Eagles song Desperado.  “You better let somebody love you, you better let somebody love you, you better let somebody love you…before it’s too late.”

If you’re dealing with feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide, help is available.  800-273-TALK (8255) is on-call 24/7 if you need to talk, or reach out to a friend or health professional in your life.

 

 

photo: jamesackerley / flickr

About Jed Diamond Ph.D

Jed Diamond, Ph.D., is the Founder and Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Though focused on men’s health, MenAlive is also for women who care about the health of the men in their lives. Jed is the author of 11 books including his latest: Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well. Since its inception in 1992, Jed has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network. He is also a member of the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male and serves as a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Gender and Men’s Health. His homepage is MenAlive.com.

Comments

  1. A lot of help here. I would postulate the PHD. dweeb is a sweater wearing, pipe puffin’, golf playing, wannabe sophisticated, mommy lovin’, non pant wearing ( power given to wife), homosexual tendency havin’ “graduate”……lest we never forget, type, who loves to pontificate just to hear the words come out of his mouth. What a joke. You have to be kidding, right ? Right ? Now, go sniff that bottle of Old Spice, just so you can feel like a man.

  2. Goatbacks says:

    Typically narcissistic article about “Joiner” at every possible pause, junction, breath, pseudo-opportunity…yeah, we 50-somethings are hurting, but apparently not enough to get Joiner to stop lobbying for credit…shut up and back up your bull….it…one more, among many, numerous, disingenuous, self-op pseudo-helpers who see the Interwebs as fodder for self-promotion…too bad…you sort of, almost, possibly, could’ve-been, actually reached someone…instead you’d rather let people die while you talk and promote and chest-puff…well done…you ARE a 21st century MAN…I read for 2 mins….now on to death…later selfish man

  3. No life, no job, no love, no sex, no vacations, no rest, falsely accused, afraid off most human interactions the only reason I am still alive is what could go wrong with suicide.

    I can’t even get the drugs I need to cope with this BS, because government makes anything illegal that makes people feel better or cope with BS called reality, which for people like me is just pain and emptiness .

    It makes me damn sick any thing that affects men negativity is ignored, work place death, suicide, no income, no home, false accusations, etc…….
    Even worse if your male and white, the general thought is you deserved it.(as they claim your privileged because your white and male, which is a feminist/pc lie.

  4. A number of studies have found that a major risk factor for suicide is childhood sexual abuse. The earlier the event the more impact it seems to have later in life. Birth traumas are one such factor, and that includes circumcision, which of course in this country only happens to boys.

    • Mine is money and no prospects of employment. With a life insurance policy I am worth more dead just need to make it look non-intentional. 44 years old so I’m no kid and this is no passing fancy.

  5. “Given their privileged financial and society status…”

    Such a pity this author assumes this concept to be a proven fact, rather than a disingenuous feminist construct. If you lose the feminist mythology of “patriarchal power” which this presumptive statement alludes to, suddenly you understand that suicide isn’t an act committed because men feel – or are – powerful. Suicide is widely considered to be accompanied by feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. Often men have enormously justifiable reasons to feel powerless, including the impossible expectations (“You’re a man, therefore privileged – what are you worried about”) that many men are expected to live up to.

    For example: A man is divorced by his wife, he loses everything, including his children, house and reputation through false allegations of abuse of his ex-spouse. He then is submitted to up to 18 years of paternity fines (aka Child Support) and alimony for life. He gets to the end of his working life and realises just how disposable society has regarded him for the 40 years that he was despised as a “deadbeat” and forcibly enslaved (through societal expectations and threats of jail for non-payment of alimony) to provide for his ex-partner and children, with whom he has had no contact for 20 years. At this point he is utterly disenfranchised from a society and government which has treated him as little more than a slave for the majority of his life.

    Variations on this theme happen endlessly throughout the western world to hundreds of thousands of men every year and a proportion choose suicide in preference to the bleak alternative.

    Until we consider alternative social paradigms to the blinkered, house-of-cards myth of “patriarchal power” we will never truly understand why men suicide. There is an abundance of historical evidence suggesting that the “patriarchy”, as touted by feminist theory, never actually existed at all.

    Until we acknowledge and address the loss of family, reputation and finances that men suffer after so many divorces, we will never help that proportion of men who suicide following the bleak, lonely and dismal existence forced upon them by the laws and expectations that currently exist.

    To do all that we have to actually care about men. That, for many people, is perhaps the most difficult hurdle of all.

    • I absolutely agree. We have become disposable and the pariah of Political Correctness. After 5 years overseas in a hostile country, I come home to find myself hated even more HERE. The ONLY thing keeping me going is my oldest son who lives with me. I will die before I ALLOW MYSELF TO BECOME EMASCULATED.

  6. ken little says:

    Nice that you have aprofession, written 11 books, have money and a wife. I had money, respect, even a house, and my friends are mostly gone, There is no hope for the future, 65 years old, going broke and still have to work a shit job. Yes, hopelessness, the key word here, sleeping and eating alone every day.,
    Can’t even have a cat because I rent a condo from an older couple who could sell anytime. antidepressants, therapy since I was seventeen, just to keep on surviving, FOR WHAT reason????
    I

    • Seriously, I feel you. Imagine if you were rich; would you want to live? I would want to live if I were rich because I would have the basic amenities of life and the luxurious time to pursue personal goals. Since we are not rich, we are slaves. The system is engineered to keep us all down, no matter how hard we try amd no matter how much we deserve it. They WANT us to surrender our lives since we already have; we do not live, we survive, while our lives have been taken and used by the few.

      • That’s why we need to support each other in staying alive, taking back our power, and changing the economic system to make it more fair for all. Thanks for writing. I’m with you all the way.

      • Brillianr! That’s it. I’ve been groomed to be a wage slave and at 44 let me tell you that you have it right!

  7. Okay, since it’s obvious that far too many women have lost their way, when’s the Good Women Project rollout?

    • I didn’t lose my way but my oldest brother did 4 months ago. He was in his mid 50’s and committed suicide by a mixture of rubbing alcohol, windshield fluid and volka. I’m his sister and all I wanted was to understand why midlife men want to take their lives. He wasn’t sexually abused as a child. I commend the women who are reading this article. They are trying to help.

  8. Dear sir/madam?

    I kindly write to you expressing my sorrow. I am a very sad Kenyan, full of depression. This has, since ten years ago, put me in a position of committing suicide. I consider this operation as my best choice of releasing and relieving myself. When i look the far i have come from while suffering in life, tears start rolling down the cheeks. This is because i always imagine how painful it is for one to be made redundant by his legal parents the way it happened to me. However, i was abandoned from home at the age of 9 in the year 2004. Soon after that shelter, food and clothes became a burden for me. Even as i speak, i am still thinking and planning to eliminate myself in this world so that my parents could enjoy as they wanted wherever they are. It’s very much painful for me. I can’t go beyond the ides of march.
    Even now i don’t stay at home. I left home 10yrs ago. But i stay on the street of Nairobi city where i spend the whole night with my colleagues of the same calibre, just begging. The few clothes i was given by my friend, who is a catholic, are with him. He keeps for me. He can’t do much to help me since he’s also poor. This matter is getting more worse. Where can i run to? I reported the matter to the government of my country Kenya ten years down the line but no steps were taken upto now. I made up my mind and realised that i have no right to live at all at all. This is how i arrived at my decision to commit suicide. My health is in a very pathetic state. My dreams were shuttered. I wanted to become an accountant professionally. Is there anyone in this world who can make me realise my dream and even make my dream come true? I need shelter and education seriously. God knows the rest (food and clothes). I have realised that i may die any time from now but i can’t resist it since i am deeply hurt. I confess that i am a very angry lad and so i can’t afford to go beyond the ides of march before i commit suicide unless you intervene with good reasons. I feel embarrassed, annoyed and irritated. I need a peace of mind, please. I am more concerned about education and shelter/house than anything else. I have many a times googled on internet in search of university sponsorship but always in vain. I even tried consulting the government’s ministry of education while looking for a sponsor and or scholarship but i didn’t succeed yet i have an exemplary performance at high school whose certificate i got by selling ten buckets of water at a hundred kenya shillings equivalent to almost one euro during weekends to pay school fees. But just after coming out of high school, i had to hustle again to complete the fee balance so as to get the school certificate.
    While hoping to get a sponsor who is gonna educate me to the university, things did not go as i expected till now thus leaving me with the option of committing suicide. This worries me alot. I just look how people come from university and get a job through what i can claim to be corruption yet they didn’t even perform well at high school level. I therefore kindly plea heed for your much consideration into my application. Otherwise, all is not well with me. I am seeking for a sponsor/foster parent who is ready to go down with me. Best regards.

    Yours at heart,
    Zakaria Akanga.

  9. These three warning signs are bullshit. This is coming from an actual suicidal person. With an I.Q. somewhere in the 130’s.
    No, I’m not egotistical, nor am I looking for praise. I am simply drunk and feel like reappraising this crap. Actually I might be a little egotistical. Whatever.
    1. Thwarted Belonginess. All four of the writer’s subs are pretty much the same fucking thing: I don’t fit in. yeah, you/we/me are the round peg in a world of square holes.
    2. Perceived Burdensomeness (Are these even words?) Suicidal people have no one. I mean the real ones. Like me. Besides my dog, I have not a single human being on this planet that would stick his or her neck out for me. So how about for the sake of possibly saving someone tonight, we just scratch this shit off the chart. People who are truly depressed have no one. so fuck your perceived burdensomeness. Did a hipster write this article?
    3. I’m too tired to reiterate what the OP posted, something about the capacity to kill yourself. The real capacity to do yourself in is that you are completely empty inside; you have no friends, no family, you have failed at love, friendships, a career, a passion; you are already fucking dead inside. The fear of blood? Seriously? Yeah I get weazy when I break a toe or cut myself, what the FUCK does that have to do with my capacity to kill myself? Ever heard of a shotgun to the head? CO? Mexican barbiturates? As far as a fear of death, or the lack there of, yeah maybe he might of gotten that one right. A truly suicidal person doesn’t fear death, but embarrasses it. I can’t WAIT to die.
    And for all reading, this is not a cry for help. Truth is I am going to kill myself there are jsut a few things I have to take care of first. I drink every night and sometimes i stumble upon shit like this that pisses me off. That is all this is. Happy New Year, Merry Christmas. Go fuck your mother.

  10. Good stuff, but a typo near the end had Freudian slip and made me chuckle. Instead of my wife “removed the gun” it says she “removed the guy” from the house. Maybe, wife having a guy live in the house was part of the problem? So, ladies if you have your lover in the house it might make suicide more of an option for your husband.

  11. I think about suicide all the time. I have a firearm so it would be quick and easy. Unrealized ambitions. Physical problems. Financial insecurity. No friends or close family. I’m now 35 years old. The hopelessness that I have towards the future is overbearing and relentless. I can’t imagine things getting better because they have been bad for so long. I just want to end the pain and suffering. Every day is misery.

    • hey, dude. are you still alive? i hope you get this message. I think about suicide all the time, too. Did you ever have a traumatic brain injury? I did when I was eight years old and I think that’s why I am depressed.

  12. It is more of a male problem . Men die from suicides 4 more than women . According to some stas in the military is even 6 times more than women more .I think women are attempting to do it more to get attention . Men die in alarming numbers . Its to much pressure from the media for men to be in control ,to be a provider , to be strong . Men up , men up ….right . Most homeless people are men so….there . And women live longer . Who is the victim ?

  13. Thank you for minimizing suicide in females. No problem at all. Because they don’t succeed as often as men. Perhaps if my niece had a GUN or other way other than pills, she’d have succeeded with her TWO attempts already. Maybe she will succeed with attempt number three?? To you, it wouldn’t matter.. it’s a male problem, not a human problem.

    It’s NOT a MALE problem or phenomenon. It’s a HUMAN problem thing.

    STOP bringing females into something when you want to talk about males. Stop with the statistics of male/female stats. But of course, it doesn’t matter to you that FEMALES attempt more!! Can you imagine how many suicides there’d be if females DID succeed? Then we’d not have people like you thinking suicide is a male problem.

    So only males have expectations on them??? LOL WISHFUL THINKING!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Al Porter says:

    Imagine you are in a situation where a bully is abusing you. The bully takes your money, hits you and yells at you constantly. You try to tell friends and family what is going on, but they either don’t believe you or can’t give you any useful advice on what to do. Since the bully is smaller than you, if you try to retaliate you will be considered the aggressor. When you realize that the only way to escape the bully is to move away, the bully takes all of you money and prevents you from seeing your children. Since you have nothing left, you end your own life. However, since society views this particular group of bullies as “victims”, these stories are suppressed and the excuses given are “obsession with work” or “high risk lifestyles”, or a bunch of other vague nonsense contained in this article.

    • ChissBountyHunter says:

      Document every incident. Go to the police and show the bruises. If they laugh at you just say you don’t hit people smaller than you so how to protect yourself? Install a hidden camera when the bully is not around. Make a trail. It’s good to not retaliate, but you can protect yourself and your children.

      • When somebody hits you, you try to escape. When they hit more, you try to restrain them. If they are as strong as you or stronger, you won’t be able and only then you should fight back – but only enough to be safe again. Simple education we should be learning at home, uh?

    • You should never hit someone smaller than you to protect yourself, you can restrain them. Of course, a smaller person could be holding a gun or a knife, could be a martial arts major and on and on… but you know what I am talking about. That would definitely be retaliation/revenge and you will be the worst aggressor.
      You can try to record it. Get it on camera. If you are already away, good enough. Society do not see these people as victims, though. It is just more difficult to prove your victimization.

  15. Thwarted belongingness 9/12. This article depresses me.

  16. Remittance Girl says:

    I think men are different from women when it comes to suicide and that has a great deal to do with the very rigid expectations and inflexible definitions about what society sees as success for a man. I think most people commit suicide because they can’t make meaning out of who they are when they don’t live up to social models. But meaning making and language are very closely related. It is, I realize, a generalisation but women tend to be better communicators, and I think this goes a long way to accounting for the gender disparity in suicide numbers.
    When you can discuss your feelings with others, when you take in diverse points of view, those rigid models of success loosen up. You find ways to find meaning for yourself outside the rigid models.

  17. Is this just an ad for a book? I didn’t get much out of it except hints about what’s in the book. I’m not being flippant: I lost my dad to suicide when I was 24. As for me, I have the first few symptoms but that fear of death thing…yowza, no thanks! I like being alive, as burdensome as it sometimes seems!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I broke up with my bf in February and since that time he lost his job and got a DUI. He texted me last Monday morning at 0023 and said this is the last message I will receive from him. I did not get the message until 0723 that morning. He shot himself in his garage. He smothered me and was post divorce, went back to his ex twice. I was not in love with him but I did not want him to die. I don’t understand why something did not urge me to get the message or wake up and save him. It hurts to feel so guilty.

  19. Thank you for this article. Thank you.

  20. I Can’t help but feel a lot of men commit suicide for simple loneliness, lack of intimacy, lack of sex. Rejection.

    • yeah, that’s how I feel, too. Women need to be more freely loving instead of frigid. I have not had enough sex for any good reason.

  21. I agree with everything you have written. I have tried to commit suicide 3 time when I was a teen. The last time was by cutting my wrists.

    Since than I think I became a successful businessman. My life has been on downward spiral for the last 3 years and I am very tired.

    I hope my 4th attempt will be successful, I am 35.

  22. I think this is dead on. I am still alive right now for one reason only: my parents would miss me if I killed myself. There have been many times in my past where I would not have hesitated to end my life if I had not known that my parents needed me alive.

    • Michael, thanks for your post. I am in exactly the same position, but with my children. My wife is divorcing me, taking everything, and I’ve had to rebuild my life on my own from the ground up. I don’t get to see my son and daughter very often; she took them from me when they were literally the only reason I had left to live. About 15 mos. ago I was a moment away from taking my own life, but the thought of not being there for my kids, particularly my beautiful sweet 5 year old daughter, kept me from stepping over that line. Even though I’ve got a good job now, a place of my own, and a girlfriend, I still think about it almost every day… and the only reason I still haven’t is because my kids are so important to me.

      • Anonymous says:

        Paul–i am touched by your predicament. I also am divorced and the exact lament you express regarding your children is the one thing preventing me from happiness. Like you I get a lot of my identity from my kids. It is natural part of being a dad.

        Hang in there. This pain you feel is temporary. And if you ex is keeping the children away from you and saying shitty thing about you, keep being the dad you know you can be. All this stuff passes and your children will find their own truth about their parents. They will eventually come to see you for the kind, loving father you are. Hang in there. Hang in there. This is all temporary.

        • Tom Brechlin says:

          Paul, Anonymous … your stories have to be told over and over and over until society starts listening! And I hate to use the cliché that “you’re not alone” but it’s true. You’re not alone in a sense that many men/dads are going through the same thing. Unfortunately though, you are alone in that society has ignored and neglected men/dads like the two of you and have given little to no support.The devastation men go through is seldom acknowledged as it should be. Hang in there and know that there are men who care.

  23. Eirik Rogers says:

    Thank you, Dr. Diamond, for such an informative article. Like you and so many others, my life has been deeply affected by the suicide of someone close to me. In my case, it was my best friend, and he left behind a widow and a young son, both of whom he loved very much. To me, he was like my big brother; we were best friends since we were ten. And none of us could save him.

    Dr. Joiner’s perspective is interesting because it is more than a look at suicide from the emotional sterility of a purely professional perspective. It has the added dimension of deep and sad personal experience. I suspect the answers he seeks are not only to quench a professional thirst for insight, but to address a personal longing to make sense of his father’s tragedy. So it is with the deepest respect that I question the absence of the fear of death as one of the tenets of his arguments defining one’s capacity for suicide.

    In my long climb out of the emotional crater left by my friend’s suicide, I was profoundly impressed by the memory of a conversation I had with him just two weeks before he killed himself.

    “Gee, I don’t want to die,” he said.

    I remember it sounded like a plea, as if he was trying to sway an executioner’s decision. I am convinced that he took his life not because he conquered the fear of death, but because he could not conquer the fear of living. The latter did not dilute the former; it steamrolled over it.

    My friend did not want to live in his pain any more. But that did not mean he wanted to die. He flat told me he didn’t want to die. And I thought it was enough to know that. The sudden and overwhelming resoluteness of his death just two weeks later completely blind-sided me. And so I feel compelled to share this, because if anyone looks to gauge the suicide potential in another by measuring their perceived fear of death, they may be in for a very nasty surprise.

    And when you think about it, a diminished fear of death merely lowers the hurdle over which one must jump. When that hurdle remains high, as I believe it was with my friend, it speaks a deeper truth to the immensity of pain that can cause one to overcome it.

    • I’m not sure that not wanting to die and not fearing death are the same. I stay alive because I don’t want to die–life is precious even in pain and there is always joy to remember or hope for–but I don’t fear dying. That lack of fear would probably make a difference if other things got worse.

    • Eirik, I am convinced you are right. My sons said the same things to me before he died. Of course he did not want to die. He wanted a girlfriend, friends, a job, a house. He was scared. It took a lot of panic and anxiety and fear before he could finally muster up the courage. It was his third attempt. He had been sharing his fears and his loneliness and almost every other aspect with us. He just could not bear his loneliness nor the way his future looked – he was depressed and suffered from schizophrenia. Which makes his case a bit different from some of the other people who answered in this thread. But yes, he did answer to those three criteria. And no, we certainly did not miss those warning signs. We tried to help in every which way we could. He knew that.

      • “Eirik, I am convinced you are right. My sons [sic] said the same things to me before he died. Of course he did not want to die. He wanted a girlfriend, friends, a job, a house.”

        Very profound.

        May your son rest in peace.

        And I’m glad you recognised what your son was going through and tried to help. I’m sure that meant something to him..

  24. The middle part, the questionnaire, reads like a poem.

  25. David Wise says:

    The author makes it seem as though loneliness is the biggest component to suicide and I have disagree with that to an extent. I think a major reason people commit suicide and murder/suicide is the fear of losing their livelihood or romantic interest. When many people lose their job or go bankrupt, that’s when they take extreme measures. A broken marriage or relationship can also trigger a suicide. These situations in life produce the most stress and can lead to depression.

  26. I’m a little concerned that having a sub-heading “Suicide is a Primarily Male Problem” is dangerously divisive, and it’s making that same error of alienation that some of the more unhelpful sub-cultures of feminism makes of labelling something a “women’s issue” when it is in fact a “person’s issue”. The fact that suicide is four times higher in men is indicative and symptomatic of “men’s issues”, but I don’t think it’s necessarily helpful to say “Suicide is a male problem” (I know I’m skipping the crucial word “primarily” and I know that makes all the difference, but people aren’t going to hear that). Also the three causes of suicide are not different in a woman than they are in a men are they? They’re just more likely to converge in a male. So the question is what factors mean that a man is more likely to be socially disconnected – why are we so bad at making friends – is it a psychological flaw (i.e. something to do with the individual) or a sociological one (i.e. some difference in the way we all behave towards a man as opposed to a woman) or a bit of both? Why are we more inclined to feel burdensome? Is there something we contribute that is undervalued? Are the defining features of male worth too narrow? We know of a time when young women would commit suicide on account of sex, or moreover pregnancy, outside of wedlock made her feel like she’d lost all value – and that’s been addressed socially; we now have a different way of valuing women in which virginity plays no part. So we have to ask on what criteria male worth is judged that someone can, on an equally capricious twist of fate, decide that their worth has gone and is irretrievable. We know that, in fact, it’s to do with earning potential. Far too much store is placed on what a man earns as a guide to his worth, and we live in an economy that also believes that. “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” was the choice phrase by the mother of free market monetarism in Britain. There’s no worth in the Van Gogh’s and Franz Kafka’s who die peniless with nothing but a body of work to show for it.

  27. “I feel disconnected from other people…”

    Thank you for writing this enlightening article….I could never understand this about my ex…. He felt disconnected from everybody… On the surface, he seemed like the normal suburban dad with three beautiful kids…I never really understood him….I think his near dying from peritonitis from a burst appendix as a young teen and the later death of his sister in an auto accident always separated him from normal living people….it is frightening to see how picture perfect people look on the outside at first… And then you scratch the surface and all the ugly stuff is revealed, like finding black mold when you peel away a wall in a house during renovation….

  28. wanna know why men commit suicide more then women..fact no one wants a man that fails at life but everyone wants a woman …some men can’t take failure and some can…I jumped out of a third story window in 2000 shattered both my legs and ankles spent six weeks in the hospital…why did I jump because I am a failure my accident didn’t change anything about my life just made it worse for me know I can’t work cause of my past injuries prevents me from it I’m dirt poor and have nothing what’s keeping me from trying again well the memories of my fall haunt me still today the suffering I went through the surgeries I had to put my ankles and lower legs back together still affect me to today…I ruined my life cause of a suicide attempt and regret it I might be poor as dirt but I have my life thanks to god and my life might never get any better cause people don’t care if I’m alive or dead I’m just a lost human in a rich mans world trying to survive

    • Dear John,

      There are no failures in life, only trials that make us stronger and wiser. There’s so much to be thankful for in life, everyone has a purpose in this world…everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has their own problems. Try to reach out to people, you can get what you want by helping others get what they want. Learn to accept and love yourself just as you are, I promise you life only gets better. God loves you!

      K

      • Yeah, it’s possible to fail at achieving one’s core desires and objectives in life, and more profoundly than just that.

        P.S. You don’t know that life gets better, and you’re making an unethical promise.

  29. Allen lexy says:

    Well, the future is a big problem, especially when there are negative elements in a persons future, if there are obstacles in the future, the past is not a problem but if you can fix the future for suicidal people you will remove their need for suicide, they are avoiding some elements of the future let it be career, imprisonment, torture or anything else…….stop using complicated theories and just realize that people who don’t have obstacles or negative items in the future, or if you promise and assure 100% and have 100% proof that things will be fixed then you can eradicate the problem, but still having a perfect future is not a destiny that all of us are furnished to enjoy, so there will always be suicide as long as there are human beings………….

  30. A young man who worked for me (he was only 22) took his life last week and this has devastated me. I cannot understand it. He was so bright, continuing school to get his Masters this fall. If any one out there is planning to do this awful act – please stop and think about what happens to those you leave behind. I am not even family to this person, only knew him for a short period of time and I am reeling. I cried for two days and could barely function at work. You don’t know how far reaching your suicide is. It touches people beyond immediate family and friends. And suicide can be contagious – this young mans father committed suicide – and the grief that endures can make others want to stop living too. Please find a way, any way to not end your life. Look to those who have survived incredibly bad things and discovered joy. Realize that things always look different in the morning. When in a bad place mentally, do something to break the spell. Please. I will spend my entire life now wondering about this beautiful young person, and constantly asking WHY and wondering if I could have done something to prevent it.

    • Brook Edward says:

      Sorry for your loss Pat. I truly am. But as someone who has been suicidal, your pleading for people to stop and think about what happens to those left behind is pointless. When you are in such a state that you are ready to take your own life, you cannot find the emotional energy to care about what happens after you are gone. The only thing is the compulsion to get out of this life right now. It’s like standing in the window of a high rise with a fire raging behind. You have to jump and you have to jump now to avoid burning. Nothing else matters except ending the pain.

    • I’m sorry about how this has affected you.

      However, you’re blaming the wrong person,:the young man. His decision might have been wise. I can’t know for sure, and neither can you (for sure), and ironically neither could he. But it remains a possibility.

      More to the point, his decision probably wouldn’t have been particularly traumatic for you if he lived in a free society. There are studies coming out showing suicide (in the context of euthanasia) is in some cases even less traumatic than a natural death if the person is able to talk to and prepare their loved ones.

      One of the tragedies of society’s effectively inflicting torture against people by using force to make them live against their will (or deny them the means of a comfortable and reliable death) is it traumatises loved ones.

      It also makes it less likely that a suicidal person will talk about it, and so gain the chance to get support from loved ones or professionals. It forces loved ones or strangers to come across scenes of suicide and attempted suicide. It puts cops in the position of having to shoot people who just want to die and don’t have the means.

      It causes people like my lovely friend to have to die horribly by hanging. After being raped, no less. She shouldn’t have had to go through that and then that.

      It causes other people to suffer brain damage and vertebrae damage through the same method, or blow half their face off, but live, or damage organs, but survive (or die painfully) via poison, or … well you get the idea.

      Above all, it makes people go through the indignity of realising they are slaves to the government.

      It’s unfortunate that this young man felt so bad and I’ll never know whether he made the right or wrong decision. But I do know he had to do so isolated, alone, unable to reach out without fear of losing his autonomy. And that’s tragic and evil. Those who would use force against the unhappy are tyrants and should be ashamed, present company not excepted.

      May he rest in peace.

  31. Why do you eliminate my comments. What are you afraid of.
    I stated that our North American society has become female oriented.
    Many men feel like failures and thus want to commit suicide.
    What’s wrong with that? As long as they don’t hurt anyone but themselves.
    Many women have stated that they live quite well without men.
    Universities have programs teaching women how defunct men are in the world.
    Yet heterosexual men cannot live without women.
    Our society only tolerates successful men.
    If men feel they are not a part of this world then they should exit.
    If women feel they are better off without men then let them live in such a world.

    • Josh K. says:

      Let’s see…
      Yeah, North American society is both male and female oriented. In some ways they support more men’s fantasies, in other ways they support more women’s. Men not being the leaders anymore in many aspects does not mean women have it all, or that men lost it all. That is reactionary bullshit.
      Many women also feel like failures and want to commit suicide. In fact, MORE women attempt suicide than men.
      And that is amazing that women finally know they can live without men (a partner, for example). Men know well enough they can live without women as well, and have always known and bragged about that. Of course that, as a society, we can’t live with only one gender. But that is said in a personal level only, unless the person is too delusional.
      And no, I don’t see “women” believing they are better off without men. Women has never commit genocide against men. There is no signs of it happen soon.

  32. I tried to post a comment, but the screen reloaded so an ad could play, and I lost the whole thing. This is a newer shorter comment.

    Interesting article. Unfortunately, I can say all those things about myself. Fortunately, I’ve never thought of suicide. Though, I did wake up with chest pains several weeks ago, and just laid there hoping for the best.

    All I’ve wanted for my life was the opportunity to realize my full potential. I was going to college, with plans for medical school. Was getting straight A’s, and had excellent references. Then, a mountain of medical bills closed the door to med-school, along with all of my backup plans. I then spent around 10 years doing travelling contract work, because they supplied housing, which otherwise I would be living on the streets. After 10 years of doing that, money reared it’s head again, and I had to quit that path.

    During a 5-6 year period of unemployment I applied to well over 1000 positions. The result of all that was a job as a cashier at a department store. So, the result of all my hard work has been going from an aspiring pre-med student to a cashier with the lowest income I’ve ever had, having to depend on friends and family for my survival…all because of having had pile of medical bills that I couldn’t get past… My best estimates are that it will take me another 20+ years to get past all the damage that that has caused. I’ll be in my mid- to late- 60’s at that point. A little old to be finally starting a career. And that will be the first time I’ve ever been able to support myself.

    I truly feel like I’ve missed a ton of life. I have significantly more regrets than not. I’m tired of having to depend on others. I’m tired of having my entire life be dictated by money.

    He says in the article… “We often invest so much of our lives in our work, when we lose our jobs or retire we feel worthless, unable to contribute. It’s a short step to feeling we are a burden on those we love.” I’m 44 years old, and I’m still trying for the opportunity to get a career. I’m still trying to support myself. I am a burden to those I love, but they’ve all given up on me.

    Until my money situation improves, I guess it’s going to work each day and getting yelled at, degraded, and made to feel like crap.

  33. As a female who knows several females who committed suicide, as well as someone who has worked in adult mental health, I can’t help but shake my head at this article. Why are there a much large number of males who commit suicide? It’s been known forever that men who attempt suicide usually use more lethal means then women do. Women don’t have use guns, they often use medication. If you really intend to die, you can’t really “get it wrong” if you use a gun.

    Every female I know who went on to commit suicide felt all three of these things:
    1) A sense of not belonging, of being alone;
    2) A sense of not contributing, of being a burden;
    3) A capability for suicide, not being afraid to die.
    How on earth can this be considered unique to males? PEOPLE who kills themselves feel this way, no matter their gender.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because, simply put, men are different than women. No matter how many equal rights activists scream that we are EXACTLY THE SAME, we are not, and it is simply stupid to keep insisting that we are.

      • Tom Brechlin says:

        Melisa, I commend you for your work but if you see men and women as being the same, you’re doing one or both a dis-service. All three that you mentioned can be seen on face value as being similar to men and women. The fact that you pointed out that you know of “women” who have committed suicide leads me to believe that you focus a lot of your work on women. It’s also a fact that women more often “attempt” suicide but men out number women in succeeding. Why do you think that is? Men, who are determined, do it. Women and men may be “equal” but are no means the same.

        • Josh K. says:

          “It’s also a fact that women more often “attempt” suicide but men out number women in succeeding. Why do you think that is?”

          Because just liek she said, men use more drastic and lethal ways. That is the only reason. Now, why men use more drastic ways? Because masculine culture is usually heavier in violence, or focus more on active violence. To shot yourself in the head, to put a gun to your head is a big move. A move most women will not do, as that is not something conditioned in them. Their always are usually more passive – and because of that, less efficient sometimes, or more times than men’s.

          By the way, I did not see her saying men and women are exactly the same anywhere.
          (In fact, I always wonder why is it usually only straight men who always almost start screaming and crying when someone mentions women and men “could” be the same… I guess not agreeing with it is fine, but you guys act as if this simple thought is the worst nightmare ever. That is telling. Maybe you guys are the same people who shame men who are more feminine or “gay”, as if it was the worst thing to ever be more “like a woman”? Ok guys, ok.)

  34. This article hits close to home. I was in the army and we didn’t lose any men over in Iraq. But since coming home we’ve lost three men to suicide. It’s hard to tell what the symptoms are, especially with military guys. All of us have the symptoms, “comfortable with blood,” “comfortable with death and dying,” etc. That was our everyday life over there. It’s why there’s twenty-two vets killing themselves everyday. Thanks for the article though!

  35. To Simon and Mark,
    I think you are both incredibly brave men. The world needs men like both of you. Men who feel things deeply. I know you are both having hard times but Do Not Give Up. Try something else. Even volunteering at a homeless shelter or some other needy place can give you a sense that life is worth not giving up on.
    You also understand others dispair and are obviously intelligent men so go and give to those worse than you. Who knows what other doors may open to you.
    Our darling boy left us suddenly 14 years ago when he was only 14. It was a bolt out of the blue. I want you both to know that our sons death and our daughter lost her brother has had a profound effect on our lives.
    He is out of whatever pain he was in and by not reaching out to us for help he has left us with the pain of his loss and the additional pain of our failure to save him. Please do not inflict this pain on those who love you and from the little I have read here you both sound like very lovable men. Life is a box of chocolates. You may have eaten all the horrible flavours but in amongst them are also those lovely flavours to enjoy.

    I wish you both the best and send you strength and belief in yourself.

  36. I came across this article because I am about to end my life soon. I am over 40 and after 2600 resumes, I have given up on ever finding a job again. I was not always like that. In my youth I was an outgoing person and athlete. I enjoyed life worked hard until a back injury forced me out of the electrical trade. At the age of 31, I made my biggest mistake. I went to college after advisors told me there was a need for legal assistants. After completion of my AS degree, no experience, no work. I went on to earn a BA degree and the same thing again. No experience no work. I have been without a job since I graduated in 2005. I have no more savings, I am depressed, I am an alcoholic and now too old to get a job. A few years back, I tried to get into a nursing program but they have long waiting lines to get in. I am now 44, with no hope to live a productive life and have no more energy nor drive to continue. I have given up sports which I always loved, I can not even get out of the house sometimes. I am not looking for sympathy here. I just came across this site and wanted to share my opinion. These job recruiters are mental and one day they will get old. I am looking forward not having to worry anymore soon and be done and over with all this. Thank goodness I have no kids in this world out there.

    • Please hang in there Mark. I’m 44, recently my wife left me and took our 4 kids because of my untreated depression and mental illness stemming from many years in the emergency services here in Australia. I too have lost my job through all this because I got in trouble with the police and most days for me are almost unbearable. I have no income, can’t support my kids and at the moment I am useless and a burden to those around me. I have no qualifications of any use and I accept that I’m at rock bottom. Please believe the rock bottom thing and believe the only way life can go is up. I look at the sky every day it is blue and convince myself things can only get better. I have made two suicide attempts in the past 12 months and I’m glad they were unsuccessful even though I still have some very bad days. Please hang in there.

    • Mark,

      I don’t know if you went through with it or not. However, if you did, I hope you were able to access a reliable and comfortable method, and weren’t forced to use a violent, traumatic (for others too), unreliable method with horrible potential for mishap.

      If you didn’t go through with it, I hope that that was the right decision and you are doing better now.

  37. It scares me how well I fit these right now, and how extremely well I fit the “capacity” set.

  38. Great article…! And, yes, it is a challenge to try to help a friend, who denies that there is any problem with himself…

    Our longtime friend lost his father at age 7 years old…all he remembers is an angry man who whooped him with a belt if he did not bring home straight As on his report card….

    Our friend now has a 12 year old son…and his behavior at home is not pretty…

    We have tried to help them and support them..but we are being pushed away and shut out by cover-up lies…it seems our friend is trying to keep his father’s memory alive by imitating his behavior and words…very sad stuff…

  39. Jill Hover says:

    I have to wonder how much the anti-male, anti-father attitude in our culture affects males. I have heard that the suicide rate is high among divorcing/disenfranchised fathers. Sadly, I have also known some dads who have taken their own lives for this reason.

    • Jill

      As a woman why do you care what happens to any man?

  40. Dermott McSorley says:

    Thanks for the article. Of note this talks of the psychology of suicide which isn’t changing. Yet the rates are going up or so my Department of Mental Health says. What ?
    I think we need to talk about the sociology of suicide .

  41. Hi Wayne, you make some really good points but I hope you are not really “sick to death” of reading about suicide. An unfortunate turn of phrase but not without good intent.
    My 20 year old son died by suicide last year, leaving his father, brother and me struggling with enormous grief and guilt. If any of us had the slightest suspicion of what he was about to do that Wednesday morning, not one of us would have left him alone.
    I think Dr Joiner’s model is accurate. We as a family recognized all of these issues at different times and even sought professional help but none of us ever really examined the depth of his sadness. In retrospect I think we were all too caught up with our individual life pressures.
    We look after each other now instead of worrying about “me”..
    He was a very beautiful young man. We miss him so much.
    If only …

    • Hi Pru.

      1st up I am so very sorry about your loss I think your story sums it all up and hits the nail on the head unfortunately as you said you had no idea and that’s very sad I really feel for you it’s the one’s that are crying out for help that are let done by the system and people around them because people are to busy or it’s not my problem or you are a square peg and I only have round holes today or sorry you don’t meet the criteria on my piece of paper or computer screen or you don’t have the money or sorry it’s Friday night get back to me on Monday.

      I remember watching an interview by Jeff Kennett from beyond blue who was speaking about how hard it is to get any one to actually listen and or take any notice and he’s right

      No maybe I should clarify my statement what I am sick of is people writing about it for the sake of writing about it but not offering ANY solutions.

      I have more experience in mental health that I care to think about mental health I spent 14 months directly working with some of the most traumatised people you can possibly imagine in a state disaster zone including one young male who contacted me because I was the only one that he trusted and threatened to take his life because he was not able to access or receive the help that he and I had been so desperately trying to get everyone said that he was someone Else’s problem.

      When I got the call I drove 100 km’s to get to him and using my experience decided to bypass all the red tape and take matters into my own hands to save this guys life because I was sick and tired of the brick walls and the political crap that he and I kept coming up against for weeks on end even at the end when the tuff questions stared to be asked everyone dodged and weaved any responsibility for what had happened so as to remove any focus on them.

      in my own time I drove some very considerable distance to see this young man and it was finally reconigised by the professionals that if I had not of done what it was that I did this young man might not be with us today what did my employer of the time refuse to pay me any over time instead questioned why he couldn’t have waited until Monday ( this was a Friday night )

      A have a relative that is one of the most senior people in one of the state mental health systems in Aust, I have a son that suffers a mental illness that he will never recover from that he has lived with for close to 20 years one night he tried to take his own life I and had to physically intervene that night to stop him from taking his own life.

      When I was younger ( a teen ) I lost 2 friends to suicide my wife lost her uncle to suicide to they who criticized my first posting I ask that you re consider and think again.

      If I put up all my ideas to try and help stem suicide it would take pages and hours and trust me some of it would not be very politically friendly or correct.

      I have very close friends that work in and or are very closely aligned with some major hospital mental health units and also take in and help look after people with mental health problems.

      I am aware of a person who is what I would call in danger, who is unemployed and is on the ” Radar ” they have very little money left, are from a broken home, has no support, went to center link to pleaded their case just to try and get some financial support not to go on the dole just to try and get a little bit of money to buy some food and some help to try and find a job any job and was turned away from center link because he didn’t ” qualify ”

      Whilst this might be slightly off the subject it is linked

      I have also spent years in road trauma every day we hear about road trauma on our roads what’s our government’s answer more speed cameras, more radars and fine more people that’ll stop it…………….yeah right……NOT, don’t worry about education that costs money they are only interested in making money but will the government listen to the experts when it doesn’t suit them, not likely

      I know of doctors that won’t see people just because they can’t pay, the hospitals are over flowing, councilors like wise either won’t see people that can’t pay the free ones have waiting lists of weeks and in some cases months.

      How about some education and awareness together with some answers to help prevent suicide

      Have a read of this story

      http://www.smh.com.au/national/jobless-at-risk-during-good-times-20121117-29iv6.html?skin=text-only

      and this

      http://www.theage.com.au/national/longterm-jobless-at-risk-from-ill-health-suicide-20100913-159a8.html

      Remember the guy who climbed Sydney harbor bridge and threatened to jump last year

      What about this story

      http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/harbour-bridge-protest-who-is-mick-20110513-1elci.html

      Seriously I could go on and on

      Whats the common thread of all these stories no one is listening and no one cares it’s all to hard it’s someone Else’s problem

  42. Hi

    As Sos ie survivor of suicide [my husband took his life several years ago leaving me with 3 very young children to raise). I would like to express my opinion I suppose. Having a very close loving relationship with him before his passing. That the decision was incomprehensible. That he was not in his right mind.

    having close family and friends around he did not lack love smiles or attention. Greatly popular and greatly loved.

    what makes one person see what is good in life, and the next person concentrate only where they have failed? Depression is a gluggy sticky pit hard to get out of and it is painful and it is I saw a place of helplessness. There are pills to help which do work if we get them fast enough with a long term approach. What I witnessed was a sudden and violent decent that I could not understand. A madness. And as much as I hate to see anyone in pain I accept that I could not do anything to alleviate it. And that is the way it is.

    solution: love your boys, fathers . Build them up
    solution: provide facilities for men to reach out and get help
    solution: acceptance in life that madness does happen

    • Lisa Schuyler says:

      I’m also a SOS and I feel exactly the same way. After I read this article I thought none of those lines applied to my situation. It’s complicated but I believe my husband thought about suicide every day and every minute of every day. I think it was his fear of death and fear of pain that made him do it.

  43. Sam Jandwich says:

    Couple of dilemmas in this that I’d like to raise.

    Firstly on the three conditions put forward by Dr Joiner: 1) a sense of not belonging, of being alone, 2) a sense of not contributing, of being a burden 3) a capability for suicide, not being afraid to die. All three of these motivations or preconditions must be in place before someone will attempt suicide.

    Firstly, it seems to me that the combination of these more or less represents the flipside of contemporary ideas of what it means to be a human being, or to use a slightly old-fashioned (but increasingly relevant) euphemism, to “be a man”.

    The essence of being a man is to be able to justify your existence in the face of the enormous weight of evidence to the contrary. This can be done either by achieving a sense of belonging, of contributing, and of wanting to keep yourself alive, or conversely by reconciling yourself to the objective futility and isolation of your existence, and of finding the strength to carry on regardless.

    These are challenges that each individual faces as they reach adulthood (or put differently, which they need to face and resolve in order to reach the state of adulthood). Most people do this either of two ways: the appeal to a system of thought which proposes that some higher power (ie a “god”) gives a unified sense of meaning to everything; or alternatively they make their own sense of meaning through the collective of knowledge they come across during their lives.

    So as far as suggesting a therapeutic approach goes, I would say this approach isn’t particularly helpful, as it suggests that people contemplating suicide are those who are failing as individuals, as or Western systems of thought understand it… and that what they need is to be supported to lead more functional, self-conscious lives.

    The other dilemma (which admittedly only comes from my own stock of experience) is that therapies currently available, in the form of drugs and/or talking therapy, are very “hit and miss” affairs, which statistically may prevent people from killing themselves, but are also likely to turn their lives into an endless roundabout of doctors’ visits and soul-searching, which maintains them in some sort of miserable stasis (and here I’d like to reject the assertion that suicidal thoughts are a “temporary problem”, because from what I’ve seen, if someone is capable of contemplating the idea, then it is likely to be a constant throughout their lives).

    What I think we need to do is firstly to be more fearless in questioning whether suicide is actually a bad thing or not. Of course it devastates the people left behind, but is this an adequate justification for discouraging people from doing it if that truly is the only thing they want? I don’t have kids, but I what I do know is that if my very dear brother sincerely and exclusively wanted to kill himself, then I would support his decision… and so perhaps as a society we need to learn to countenance voluntary euthanasia at any stage of life.

    And secondly now that the idea of the existence of gods is no longer seriously considered, it seems to me that we need to try to find other sources of meaning in our existence.

    Or perhaps we simply have to recognise that Western civilisation has entered a period of decadence and decline, and that high suicide rates are an inevitable consequence of that?

    Cheers

  44. I think ‘career’ is a big problem within this issue and needs to be addressed.
    It incorporates two out of the three statements (Not belonging and not contributing) and i personally feel the weight of them both. It sounds like a minor thing but ‘purpose’ or ‘reason to get out of bed’ are hugely interwoven in the issues surrounding suicide.
    Most people know what they want to do, but in a world where your job is your identity, it can be soul crushing not to fit perfectly into a box.
    It would be great to see more open-minded discussions in early school years about career choices, no one person is the same and careers and job prospects should be treated accordingly…

    • Ellis.

      I could not agree more part of the problem here is that men over the age of 30 are seen by the majority of H.R. managers ( most of which tend to be females absolutely no discrimination meant that’s just a fact ) they are told things like they are past it, to old, to educated, to experienced, unemployed for to long, haven’t worked in the precise industry that that you are applying for despite having done the same in just in a different industry,’ know more than the recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager or employer, believe it or not I have had discussion’s with Kate Ellis the employment minister under the then julier gillard and there are NO actual anti discrimination laws in Aust when it comes to employment you can be legally rejected for any reason whats so ever and you have no come back at all.

      I know of guys that have been directly told that they are to old, to young, wrong color skin, wrong type of hair, have pimples you name it our anti discrimination minister Susan Ryan is a toothless tiger and has never in the history of this labour government taken any action against any employer or recruiter even when it is a clear breach of the law.

      Look at the amount of guys that took their own lives after the ansett crash why because they had nothing left I even know of guys in their low to mid 30’s and up into their 40’s that have been directly told ” sorry mate you’re on the scrap heap of life you’ll never work again ” there are some very serious problems with recruitment in this country think I’m joking do a search for stories from Fiona Smith from BRW magazine.

      After guys are rejected 100, 200, 300 plus times and they can’t provide for their family, their family unit is falling apart, their marriage is falling apart, they stand to loose the family car or house, they bare depressed no one wants to listen or cares where do you think that it all stands a good chance of ending.

      Have a look at some of the links that I posted about guys being out of work in relation to Pru’s story

      I was involved in the setup and opening of a men’s shed, I know right now of a charter bus driver that was forced out of his job by a crap management and they bad mouthed him all around the industry despite him being well known and all his awards and letters from various schools and other groups he can’t get another job driving buses that’s all he knows he regularly ring me just to unload that’s all he knows he can’t get another job and is terribly depressed this guy is only in his early 50’s he says to me Wayne no one cares, no one wants to know bus driving is all I have done all my life it’s all I know I’m washed up I’m finished I know the company concerned and there is a culture of bullying there are upwards of 20 people a day away with stress related sickness’s from this company there have been a large amount of people go on stress leave but will work safe do any thing about ti NO why because they don’t care and it would be politically incorrect to do any thing

      The fact is that apart from pills and endless round about trips to doctors there is nothing anyone is prepared to do about any of thees problems.

      Now what do I think should be done, I think Work safe should go in their and clean the place out management but will they do that NO now I don’t know any of the others personally I only know this one person but I know of others that have left because they are so stressed and upset and what do stressed and upset guys do commit suicide could this be prevented YES will it be NO

      What’s going to happen when Ford close the government say that there will be all of this help available but trust me it doesn’t and it won’t happen happen it’s all smoke and mirrors.

      • Wayne,check your roll, your generalisations of everyone not doing anything is insulting to every individual working in the mental health sector.
        You paranoia is concerning,psych support is now free through medicare if you need it.
        Make some positive suggestions or shut up.

        • Jayde

          As a woman you must have some knowledge of the suicide rates amongst men.
          You must also know that your fellow female associates do not know that more men are killing themselves than women. Yet where do all tax dollars go. Womens programs.
          Men are expendable. Didn’t your women”s studies classes teach you that.

      • Tell the unemployed bus driver to try truck driving or mini cab taxi instead.
        Or he could work in a warehouse with a fork lifting truck, or demolition/building sites, anywhere where driving skills are wanted.

    • Breadwinner anxiety does indeed suck, as a bread winner I never realized how stressful it is till I had someone I love to support. No wonder those men in the grey flannel suit types died young, they drank and ate horrible food to cope with the anxiety of having to support a family by themselves. Yay for two wage earner households.

      That said I like being the bread winner in my house, it makes me feel useful and like there is something Im good at (I’m a shitty housekeeper)

      • Yeah, but being the breadwinner in a relationship is a CHOICE for a woman, as in it’s not expected of you. Yeah, I know they’re S.A.H.D.’s out there, but they’re still the exception to the rule. Look, all I know is that in June of 2000 I got seriously hurt at work and there was some doubt on the doctors part whether or not I would regain enough use of my right arm/hand to be able to return to work. This ‘waffeling’ by the doctors (I swear they are worse than weathermen) led me to such a downward spiral that I went out and bought a .357 magnum (and not for home protection either!) Luckily for me I regained enough use to work again.

  45. a local father committed suicide over a week ago… devasting… an only son and wife is left… to late to do anything but support those left… while he was fragile… no one thought he would do it! he did and now we mourn the loss.

    • Annie I am very sorry to read your comment all I can say is read my comment ( assuming it gets the ok to be publically posted ) if not I am happy to email it directly to you it’s precisely what I was saying everyone talks about it but no one wants to address the REAL issues how very sad and what a shocking waste of a beautiful life I feel for his wife and son.

  46. Need to take sometime to read this article tonight. Been having strong thoughts and lifeline was absolutely useless in trying to help.

    • Please do read Tyler, it is worth the effort – just remember you are never totally alone. No matter how bad it seems the Universe is looking over you. God never gives us a bigger cross than we can bare. Good luck bother!

      • Karina Enser says:

        God never gives us a bigger cross than we can bear? Fuck are you kidding me? Why then, do people commit suicide? Cos life sucks.

      • Dave D'aranjo says:

        Yeah… while I’m positive you mean well, I’d really suggest you refrain from bringing religion into crisis counseling, unless, perhaps, you absolutely know the person relies on their existing religion to get them through tough times. The focus should be on the person’s real-life, down-to-earth circumstances and psychological pain…. to be told “God & the Universe has a plan for you” is simply not true or provable, and begs the question, “why would it be part of God’s plan for me to feel like this?”. I myself have, in the past, turned to others for help in this way – only to be “witnessed” in return. The end result is a feeling of deeper alienation and confusion than before. My suggestion to anyone who finds themselves in a counseling situation is to LISTEN, first and foremost. Stick to what is real & relevant to that person’s life, in order to find concrete – not fictitious – reasons for them to feel worthwhile and beautiful again.

    • Hello Tyler,

      indeed have a read. The gremlins can be subtle and persuasive so always remember to take three deep breaths and smile. Stick a finger at their intellectual discourse and reach out to someone or something you like. Thic Naht Hahn says “Happiness can bring a smile to your face, but sometimes a smile can bring happiness” — works surprisingly well!

  47. Hi Jed.

    Here we go again, as a male myself I am sick to death of reading these endless stories about men
    committing suicide, they all end the same way, suddenly and with out explanation.

    If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide contact Lifeline (13 11 14), beyondblue (1300 22 46 36)
    or the Salvo Care Line (1300 36 36 22).

    And the above is going to do what to stem the long term suffering of males in this boat, ? absolutely nothing,
    I haven’t met a councilor yet that cares beyond their hip pocket they are only interested in you until your ability
    to keep ? shelling out $180.00 p/h plus comes to an end and then it’s what Mr. Jones who’s he was he a
    patient of mine?.

    Instead of bailing or pumping the water out of the boat with the hole in it we actually need to fix the hole so
    that it stops leaking and doesn’t sink and that’s where the problem exists no one wants to do that it just
    easier to stand up and talk about and whinge about and write endless stories about male suicide BUT
    no one actually really wants to do any thing about it they all say that they do but in the next breath they will
    always blame someone or some out side force that stops them or that they believe stops them from doing
    so.

    How about someone start to take the bit between the teeth and step up and start to do something and
    address the reasons that men feel.

    1) A sense of not belonging, of being alone;
    2) A sense of not contributing, of being a burden;
    3) A capability for suicide, not being afraid to die

    Everyone wants to write about it adnoisem but NO ONE wants to talk about or address the REAL cause why
    because that takes balls and and effort and that means getting people out of their political comfort zone
    that means stepping on a few toes and NO ONE is willing to do that these days it’s just easier to write an
    article about it, throw it out into the media and that’s the end of it.

    We all talk about the road toll and drug and alcohol abuse till the cows come home and we bring in
    changes ( a lot of them are just knee jerk reaction reactions of revenue raising dressed up and disguise
    as help )

    In the care of road deaths what do we do fine people and take away their licenses which can in its self have a devastating effect and in some cases causes them to take their own lives and as a society we just accept that and move on

    If the government really cared about male suicide it could do something about it today BUT that would be
    politically incorrect and would mean stepping on a few toe’s maybe and making decisions that might
    loose them a few votes.

    This story claims to be about

    Jed Diamond, P.h.D, looks at suicide in men from both an individual and societal vantage point and gives ways to prevent it from happening.

    Well I’ve read the whole story twice and I haven’t read 1 single measure that actively addresses the root causes of male suicide and addresses that cause.

    • Well Wayne, what solutions do YOU offer? None. At least this article is spreading the word about a new style of identification. That’s better than a general rant about your dislike for the article. Like many men, I too have contemplated suicide many times before. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression and acute general anxiety and my doctors DID help me. They helped me a lot. But this article foes one step further; it created a self awareness about three key areas, none of which I’ve seen or heard about before. Now I am armed with some additional tools about how to identify if I might be in an increased risk situation. I’d say that’s a pretty big contribution right there, wouldn’t you?

    • I offer some solutions: 1. Women attempt suicide more often than men, but they are far less likely to be successful. Why? Because women are far less likely to use a firearm when committing suicide, choosing methods with a high rate of failure instead (slitting the wrists, pills etc) men are more likely to own and have access to guns. We need to get guns out of the hands of depressives, it’s absurd, you’re more likely to kill yourself than have an armed intruder at this point, so no more guns for depressives.
      2. Work on the isolation issue, men are denied close emotional bonds with friends often because men are supposed to be unemotional and not very vulnerable, these problems are rooted in homophobia and fear of appearing feminine. We need to work on changing the culture of “Man up” and ‘grow a pair” and make it so men can express emotion without being called “gay” (and a culture where gay is never used as an insult) we also need to facilitate the possibility of intergender friendships that are clearly not sexual relationships. Men often have an easier time talking about their emotions to women, but often aside from family members the only women with whom they share an emotional bond are sexual partners, and one person isn’t enough of a support network for most people

      • dalsgaard says:

        “Because women are far less likely to use a firearm when committing suicide, choosing methods with a high rate of failure instead (slitting the wrists, pills etc) men are more likely to own and have access to guns. We need to get guns out of the hands of depressives, it’s absurd, you’re more likely to kill yourself than have an armed intruder at this point, so no more guns for depressives.”

        It’s not only guns, unfortunately. When choosing a suicide method, men just choose ways that are statistically more lethal. And it’s not necessarily violent either, carbon monoxide poisoning is very common. I have always wondered why that is, but it is unfortunately true. I think it’s because women who attempt suicide often do so as a cry for help, whereas many men either can’t do that because of their masculine ideals – or because they truly believe they won’t recieve any help. As you say in number 2, perhaps men are also more likely to end up in isolation, real or imagined, and then they see no way out of their misery. The even more disturbing thing is that part of the traditional masculine ideal here, is that a lot of men simply don’t want to burden anyone with their problems, so they go to extraordinary lengths to avoid speaking out.

        This is not really related, but: There is a quote I always share when I write about suicide, simply because it has helped me so much. I hope you don’t mind me posting it here, in case others find it helpful too:

        “I live only because it is in my power to die when I choose to: without the idea of suicide, I’d have killed myself right away.”
        – E.M Cioran.

  48. I am a loner. People make me sick. The world is a crazy place. The only thing that keeps me going are my kids. I couldn’t care less about myself and people don’t care about me either. When my kids are grown up, I will vanish. I am not sure if anyone would notice. Oh well, such is life.

    • John, please seek help. – we notice.

      You say no one cares but you are a grown man with kids. No one reaches that point in life without having at least a few people having cared for you. Your parents, friends (past and present), wife (including if she is an ex or departed at one point cared for you), kids. They all obviously felt you deserved to be loved and cared for. No matter how dark things are most of them still care and still find you worthy of love and friendship. Build on that, contact old friends you haven’t spoken to for a while reminisce about what made life worth living. Its a big world John and even if only 0.1% of people don’t make you sick that still leaves 6 million people worthy of finding. You just have to spend the time and effort to find them.

  49. Hi, I am a Woman and was in Therapy for over two yrs. Therapist said to me after a very emotional visit…. for more then two yrs. you speak of Suicide and you haven’t done it yet! Thoughts!

  50. Hi Clare
    Thank you!
    You are absolutely right.

  51. Tom Brechlin says:

    Great article and we need more like this.
    Jed, I have another concern though and that is, as you know, is that when some made the decision to end their life, they have all appearances that they are happy and in some cases even appear euphoric. That’s why I agree that it’s important that people see any of the signs you mention as a red flag. One thought leads to another and it’s not long before they reach the level of commitment.

    The other concern I have is that many men are pros at hiding their feelings. Two of the three people I know who followed through with their ending their lives, they showed no signs. Both were successful family men. Friends and family were totally confused.

    For those who have responded and reached out in their responses, I commend you and pray that things will fall in line. It means that you are truly wanting help. Please, please get help.

    Another thing I would like to mention, since I’m speaking of getting help, some men throw “feelers” out to people. NEVER EVER take even a glib comment about one ending his life, lightly. These comments are at times feelers to see if anyone does care or not. Sometimes it’s no more then a sarcastic comment but it’s better to be safe then sorry. Pull the guy aside and simply ask him, “You said something that really bothered me …. You know you can talk to me any time, I’m here for you.”

  52. No money and no debts equals no, no suicide, no loneliness etc. All of the world’s wealth must be destroyed and social wealth (hugs, love and etc.) elevated. This is the only way to a real quality of life for all people. If not, more will die by their hands if not by others…….

    • We certainly need more love and hugs and caring and acceptance, whether we do away with money and debt (though that does seem to be happening more as we reach the limits of growth).

  53. I was bullied for my entire school years (20 years ago in the past) and I know what lost hope is. When you get shoved underwater and your reaction is just mechanical, slow your heart down, listen to the pool filter, and wait for them to let you up, you don’t even have the capacity to care about the fact it is happening again. No why me, it’s unfair, can’t they pick on someone else. Those questions all disapeared years before. Not even helplessness is scary, trust is a weapon you give someone else to beat you with, paranioa just doesn’t have the imagination to keep up with reality.

    But suicide for me wasn’t an option on a table to consider, it never even made it to the table, yet two of my friends who mostly just recieved verbal tormenting committed suicide. I never understood, even now, what the difference between us was. If I had of recieved their level of bullying it would have been a good day. They never had to hide a broken nose, bruises or peeing blood from their parents. They didn’t take up swimming because training started at 5am so you could leave home when it was dark and people wouldn’t see you and laugh at how ugly and stupid you are (I’m not and I wasn’t but thats what I thought).

    I really don’t understand suicide at all, I don’t even understand how it is a choice, and I should have been a lot closer to it then the two friends who did.

    • James, Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure there are many reasons why one person deals with a series of traumatic experience and is able to pull out of it and find a reason to live and another person might kill themselves. We can only speculate. I reflected on my father’s attempted suicide and a friend who actually died. Both, I believe, felt disconnected, didn’t felt they belonged, and had failed those they loved. But in my father’s case, he had little previous experience with weapons or many of the male experiences of being in fights, getting hurt, and accepting pain. My friend had those experiences.

      Any thoughts about what was different between you where “suicide was not an option” but for your friends it was an option?

      • If I had to guess I would say that bullying was something fairly new to them, like only a year or two. They seemed to take it on very deeply, like the cuts still smarted and they hadn’t grown numb yet. I had been bullied my whole life at that point, I didn’t have a yardstick for normal. asking me about what it was like to be bullied would be like asking someone what it is like to be short, or male, or have brown hair. It upsets me more thinking about it now, 20 years later, then it did at the time. I think in their cases they did know what normal was and knew what they had lost. The two of them did have good long time friends which I hadn’t. I recall with both of them they had isolated themselves about a month before each of them committed suicide. I can’t recall more then a Hello in the month prior and they had stopped playing handball at lunch time with a group of us. Then one day they weren’t there. I remember the group of us discussing each of them after they did it and even their best friends hadn’t been over to see them in the weeks prior to them committing suicide (They committed suicide about 10 months apart from each other)

        • James, important insights. It sounds like one of the things that separated you from your friends is that you came to come kind of peace (or at least acceptance) of the kind of bullying and abuse that was coming your way. You can numbed the pain. They felt the loss more intensely, perhaps, because they had not grown accustomed to it. I also suspect you may have had a different inner sense of how you thought about yourself. People who die, often feel they deserve what they get or they feel like they have let others down so badly they would be better off if they were dead.

          Thanks for staying alive and sharing your story.

  54. Hello Jed,

    This was a very interesting article that I shared with my FB page members today. I had originally seen the “The Suicide Epidemic” shared on a listserv, but because there were some graphic details as to method Dr. Joiner’s father used, as well as some of the language used around suicide in the 2nd paragraph saying “easy way out”, “weak” and “suicide was understood to be for losers” – all words I educate quite strongly on NOT using, it caused hesitation. I did finish reading the article, which I also noticed used “committed suicide” and decided NOT to share it with my members. I notice someone else here has included their comment that using the term “commit” is offensive and why. I also had a member on my page mention this as well and I included an excellent resource explaining why we need to stop using this term from suicide.org: http://www.suicide.org/stop-saying-committed-suicide.html

    Then I saw this article, read through it, was disappointed once again that graphic details of Dr. Joiner’s father’s suicide were included and yet all that I have been taught indicates NOT to mention method or graphic details from the suicide prevention community, included right in most of the media guidelines. I continued reading on, hesitated again on whether to share, but decided the pros outweighed the cons and included a warning listing which paragraphs contained the potentially triggering material.

    I very much enjoyed your article as well as “The Suicide Epidemic”, yet again another word not encouraged by the suicide prevention community. I’m super cautious with what I share on my FB page, but must say it’s getting more difficult to find good content that does meet the criteria I mention above. I’m always confused as to why those in suicide prevention continue to use language educated on not being used. The media is another ballgame, but when it’s those actually in suicide prevention, I find myself wondering often why we can’t all get on board and unite in the language used.

    One last issue I have with many articles dealing with the topic of suicide is that most do not include suicide prevention resources. For Canada and the U.S., National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ and worldwide http://www.befrienders.org allows the country to be searched for support resources in the “find a helpline by country” box.

    I found Dr. Joiner’s theory quite interesting and also the third capacity for suicide risk sector as it relates to military suicide as well. I find all good information to be of value so we may all learn to better understand suicide, for loss survivors, attempt survivors and those who may be contemplating or be suicidal. It’s also wonderful to find specific articles that deal with male suicide as well, so thank you for this post and your contribution. I will check out your organization MenAlive as well and will be happy to share that with my members as a resource also. It’s nice to see comments from males on here as well. Hoping one day we can turn these statistics around and it’s having excellent articles like this one that help educate so many make that possible.

    I am a loss survivor having lost my husband Rob to suicide in Dec. 2000. I feel compelled to share my story and lessons learned to help others who have had suicide impact their lives. It appears that most who go into this field have had personal experience with suicide and go on to learn more to help prevent suicides. I’m sorry your father attempted, but am glad he survived. Reading that it left you wondering if you would also suffer that same fate is something I’m sure many have wondered as well. Dr. Joiner’s father’s suicide impacted his life dramatically as well and I’m sorry for his loss as well. Suicide impacts so many and shatters many lives, yet many like yourselves go on to make a difference with your experience and expertise. Suicide turns our worlds upside down, impacts so many and yet is still quite highly stigmatized. Educational articles like this one help turn the tide.

  55. This was an interesting article indeed. I disagree with the statement “All three of these motivations or preconditions MUST be in place before someone will attempt suicide.”

    In my experience, it is not necessary for all 3 of the stated motivations or preconditions to exist before suicide is attempted.

    My concern with that specific statement is the chance it might lead to a false sense of safety, i.e., no need for immediate concern/action should only 1 of the three conditions be observed in/discussed with the “at risk” person.

    This could create additional risk potential for a suicide attempt and/or possible treatment delay.

    I would suggest only one requirement is necessary for creating risk and that is the person’s decision to commit suicide. There may be one or more drivers or precipitating conditions that bring a person to that decision but, ultimately, decision precedes action.

    When there is a sense such a decision is contemplated (for any or whatever reason) or if it has been confirmed as having been reached by the suicidal person, that is when I think preventive measures (and there are many actions that can/might be taken) are required.

    • Linda,

      I totally agree that we should be alert to any signs of potential suicide, including loss of connection and feelings that we’re a burden on others. All three may be present for people who actually kill themselves, but we certainly don’t want to wait until then. Any of the signs (and many others) should be a warning for us to get involved, connect, go deeper with the person and find out more.

  56. I find your article to be pretty consistent which what I believe about conventionaly suicidal people.

    I am curious about whether or not you believe someone should be allowed to take their own life if they want to. I can understand stopping someone who has a distorted view of reality, and as such might not be able to understand their actions and consequences, but what about those who understand exactly what they are doing? Do you believe that the mere fact that someone wants to end their life to be an indicator that someone should not be allowed to make that desition?

    This is where I currently am in life so I’m curious about your thoughts. I am currently in dialogue with a company that handles assisted suicides to those who do not want to live. While I am uncertain they will accept me, a desire to live has been absent from me since birth (or at least as long as I can remember) and I highly doubt will ever form.

    • archer,

      i am sorry to hear that you feel such a lack of desire for living, although i know the feelings of apathy, detachment and emptiness well. i hope you might open your eyes one day and see all the wonderful fullness of the world and the contribution of your spirit in it. you have something unique to offer. i am thankful for your life.

      lucy 🙂

      • How can one tell if their eyes are open, or if they are closed and one only thinks they are open? I ask because I see the value in differentiating between the two types of people, however I don’t find myself to be viewing the world through closed eyes. Granted, I’m young, however I’ve looked hard at society and the world in general. My conclusions are far from positive, and the potential for my life within it are severely limited. While I may be unique, so is everyone else.

        • i wasn’t implying that your eyes are closed, but that in some moment you may be able see things differently. i believe we choose what we see to a certain extent (glass half vs. glass half empty). it doesn’t seem realistic to think we can always see things positively, but with practice why can’t we more often?

          yes, everyone is unique. i think that is fantastic.
          🙂

          • I agree with you for the most part. Consciously adjusting one’s attitude and thoughts about a negative situation (or any situation even) can lead to control and the ability to add positivity into an otherwise bad situation.

            However, the exception also exists. Some circumstances are no less malleable and limiting no matter what one’s thoughts and feelings.

            If I may present an example, you will never be able to have the experience of eating at the table of the very first Thanksgiving. No amount of thought or feeling alteration will change that limiting fact. This most likely doesn’t bother you though as it is probably something you do not value very highly.

            However, what if this experience was something you did highly value? What if you were never to experience, say, what it is like to be loved? Progress can be made in attempting to see such as situation as a glass half full, but you’d be engulfed in a world that reminds you of what you cannot have at every turn. That progress would be whittled away daily and you’d be reminded that even though you can deceive yourself, it is something you passionately want though you are forced to live without.

            With enough immovable boundaries, whether or not it is worth the pursuit to have a life becomes called into question. I believe everyone has the right to ask themselves this question.

  57. Andre,

    Thanks for having the courage to reach out here. As you can see, many people feel with you, are reaching back, and encouraging you to continue reaching out. Hopefully you’ll find connections where you can get kind words, hugs, and support. In spite of how long you’ve suffered, you haven’t given up.

  58. @Ms. Jay @Counselor
    Thank you. I might call.
    It must be a chemical thing. I have been depressed and had severe anxiety
    since I was born.
    For the past two years it has been worse than ever.
    I was a miserable child, and now a miserable adult.
    Now I have plenty of legitimate reasons to be miserable.
    I gave up on the doctor. I have had 1 hug in the past year – 9 months ago.
    The isolation and loneliness is very real.

  59. Please, Bro. Andre. Call us now! We want to hear from you… and help. There are other counselors in your area we want to hook you up to. But mostly, we want to just hear you. Please call, Andre.
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)

    • Hmmm…Yeah, it just doesn’t work that way. Sorry to burst your bubble but I’ve tried this on a number of occasions. All you get is bad drugs that don’t help but DO harm (I now have a blood sugar metabolic disease (hypoglycemia) from the drugs) and a very expensive (to the tax payers) lock up hotel room complete with a hall light flashed in your face every 15 minutes. A lack of sleep and bad drugs and arrogant doctors do not help. I’m sssooooo SICK of everyone offering crisis centers as a solution. That is the ONLY remedy ever offered, and it sucks. My family dismisses me and doesn’t care to listen. Both of my parents are narcissists and can’t seem to hear me at all. I call the crisis line and heard the same stupid b.s. I honostly don’t believe there is any help, REAL help available. State run medical, mental and other agencies are so incompetent that they are not worth a thing to me. This country and culture is so ill that suicide makes perfect sense. There is no hope. It’s all gone to hell and a crisis hotline isn’t worth a thing to me. I’m disgusted by these sorts of comments.

  60. Andre’ please seek immediate help. There must be a local Crisis Center hotline or even a national toll free telephone number. If would you would just reach out, you would discover that there are many kind, caring and compassionate people willing to assist you. You are not alone. God Bless and take “extra good care of yourself”.

  61. Excellent article.
    I have all the signs.
    There is no one to see the warning signs.
    I tried to call my doctor today, but I owe him money.
    Even if I didn’t, I would have to wait several weeks due to office policy,
    because I haven’t been there in a few years(I would be considered a new patient).

    • andre, i know it can be terribly difficult, but i hope you learn to see what a gift you are to the world. thank you for your life.

      lucy 🙂

  62. Jed – Powerfully written. Sharing. Thank you. – B

  63. Interesting article and raises lots of good points but please please stop using the phrase “committing” suicide. It is NOT a crime like committing burglary, rape or a violent act against others. It is highly offensive and distressing to us that have lost a loved one to suicide, there is enough stigma and trauma as it is, referring to it in this way only magnifies that and reinforced negative perceptions to wider society. What to use instead? How about died by suicide, took their own life, completed suicide. Whichever you prefer, but lets ban the use of commit/committing/committed suicide please

    • Clare, thanks for sharing your feelings about the words “committed suicide” and offering other suggestions. I’d be interested to hear from other survivors. Which choice do you prefer?

      • Thanks for responding Jed. It would be interesting to see other views. Here in the UK authors, reporters and the media tend to stick to the following guidelines that have been provided by the Samaritans:

        Recommendations on phraseology
        Use phrases like
        • Raising awareness of the complexity of A suicide.
        • Die by suicide.
        • Take one’s own life.
        • A suicide attempt.
        • A completed suicide.
        • Person at risk of suicide.
        • Help prevent suicide.

        Avoid phrases like
        • A successful suicide attempt.
        • An unsuccessful suicide attempt.
        • Commit suicide (Suicide is now decriminalised so it is better not to talk about ‘committing suicide’ but use ‘take one’s life’, or ‘die by suicide’ instead)
        • Suicide victim.
        • Just a cry for help.
        • Suicide-prone person.
        • Stop the spread/epidemic of suicide.
        • Suicide ‘tourist’.

      • My brother killed himself and those are the words I prefer to use. I realised after few years of saying he had, ‘committed suicide’, when speaking about him that I didn’t believe in either of those words. He did not, ‘commit’, the crime of, ‘suicide’. He ended his life as was his right. I miss him very much but I do not hold his choice against him. Life is hard for a man and it gets progressively harder as you become more and more mentally ill, unfortunately.

        • Gabby, thanks for telling us about your brother. I’m glad my father didn’t die when he tried to take his life. But I agree everyone has a choice about if and how we live. I continue to reach out to people who are disconnected and in pain. Ultimately it is their choice about ending their life if it gets too painful to go on, but I believe that fewer people would make that choice if we better understood the warning signs and more of us reached out and shared our love, care, and experiences.

          • Hi Jed
            I disagree with your statement “if we reached out and gave more love etc”. I believed your statement prior to my husband taking his life. My approach was forgiveness love time understanding. He really needed medicating to get him thru a tough period. He didn’t get to the doctor in time.
            and really Jed, if you say that. The people left behind feel that they didn’t do or love enough. And that is certainly not accurate of my husband. 600 attended his funeral.
            I feel sadness, very deep sadness on the passing of my husband. There was not a fibre of my being that did not love him. For me I am deeply saddened that love was not enough to keep him here.
            my regret, that perhaps if he got medical attention sooner he wud be here. Some part of me however feels that may not have got him thru either. From my experience, although these thoughts can be temporary in an individual, they certainly sometimes are inescapable and once that madness is there no one can understand or right mind accept the inexplicable ending.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree. I have to tell you I disagree with your of idea that loved ones of suicidal people can prevent the unfortunate outcome. My family knew my bro in law was depressed but could not predict he would do this. He never sought help for his depression and we never knew the depths of his pain. He was a husband and father (only 35 years old) with a happy family life and good career. He was a super smart man who could solve any problem; he was loved by many. It’s so hard to understand. My family may experience guilt, but we know ultimately we’re not to blame. He just couldnt overcome his demons. His own father took his life at a young age. I believe he suffered from the same mental illness and could not recognize the symptoms.

  64. Jed,

    What a great piece. I am a Black man and there is skyrocketing rates of suicide among Black men. I think the cause(s) are as you discussed.

    Hopelessness leads to depression for men and women. Women seem to cope better than we men. Years ago, I read a book by Terrence Real, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It.” I think this book is excellent on the idea of covert vs. overt depression in men. It is one of my best reads in the last decade or so.

    What are you thought on depression and Terrence Real’s work on covert depression in men?

    Thanks for this marvelous contribution to GMP.

    Cheers!

    • My research, and personal experience, tell me that many men experience depression differently than do women. Men often “act out” our disconnection and pain and experience more symptoms like anger, aggression, and alcoholism. Terrence Real offered some excellent insights and recognized the hidden ways in which many men express their depression. As think as more people are willing to “come out” and talk about what is going on for us, the better picture we’ll have of what truly undermines men’s happiness. Not only does silence keep us from connecting with each other, but it keeps all of us from knowing what is going on for men. Thanks for sharing your experiences here.

  65. “In his latest book, Lonely at the Top, Joiner asks, “which cause of death stands out as affecting men far more than women? Given their privileged financial and society status, perhaps it has something to do with the dark side of wealth and power such as the cardiac or stroke-related consequences of influential but stressful jobs, or a taste for expensive but unhealthy foods?””

    I don’t understand this statement, are you suggesting that all men have privileged financial and social status as compared to women.

    • I think Joiner’s point was that men, as a group, enjoy greater financial and social status, than women. Yet their suicide rate is much higher. He’s exploring why that may be so and concludes that it is more to do with our lack of connection, feeling like a burden if we’re not as successful as we think we should be, and more willing to accept the pain of death and more experience inflicting pain on ourselves.

      • Tom Brechlin says:

        I think it would be better stated if it said “perceived” or even better “expected” financial and social status.

  66. Gint Aras says:

    Thank you so much for this article, Dr.

  67. Jameseq says:

    great post, a very powerful read

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  2. […] “Self-harm now takes more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.” -An article in The Good Men Project Articles/Perspective/Reports/resources “It’s been hard to get the right balance of […]

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